The first details of the winter ferry services are beginning to appear. Dodekanisos Seaways have released timetables up to the end of the year. but these may be subject to alteration as they are only bookable up to 8 November. Basically the normal 4 sailings a week winter timetable reappears once the celebrations at Panormitis are over. This provides sailings on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays leaving Rhodes for Symi and points north in the morning, returning through Symi in late afternoon. The main change is where the sailings go to once north of Kos, all the usual places get a boat, but not necessarily on the same day they did last year.UPDATE: following the national lockdown in Greece, this service is reduced to just Saturdays and Mondays for the rest of the year, we don’t know what will happen in January yet.
Blue Star will continue with the timetable that is currently operating (calling at Symi on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in both directions)
No word yet on whether SAOS Ferries have a winter timetable, and if so, what it is. UPDATE – appears to be the same as the summer./autumn timetable, sailings from Rhodes to Symi and beyond on Mondays and Thursdays, southbound on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Watch out in the period either side of Christmas – there may be extra sailings, altered days of operation, etc, and no sailings on Christmas Day.
And the answer to the question in the post title is – not a lot. As is always the case at this time of year, tourist – related activity is slowing down and some places are packing up for the winter. Of course in this COVID year a few never opened, though most did. Adriana’s blog lists several places as closing for the winter this week, while some others (Taverna Dafni at Toli) intend to carry on longer if they can as they have local trade as well as tourists.
Today is the last 2020 trip of the Poseidon, and taxi-boats are unlikely to continue past the weekend, with the beaches at Nanou and Marathounda having already shut. But the bus services are still running to a late – season timetable. Confusingly neither of the regular buses are running the services though – The Yialos-Chorio-Pedi bus is currently a white Lakis Travel minibus, and the Yialos -Panormitis turquoise bus went off to Rhodes on Tuesday,with a silver Panormitis Travel minibus standing in for it.
Day trippers are getting fewer, and I haven’t seen the train running round the harbour.Correction it was running today. No shortage of taxis, yet though. Dodekanisos Seaways have released their timetable for early November, covering the period of the Panormitis festival, the other ferry operators have not,though Blue Star, at least, probably won’t change much from this month. Rumour has it that the festival will be almost entirely religious this year,the market and fairground type activities being cut right back on public health grounds.
I finally reached Symi this year on Wednesday 7 October, just 5 months later than I had planned.Not the most straightforward journey – Easyjet flight from an almost deserted London Gatwick Airport into Rhodes.Plane arrived early, despite having 184 passengers on a 186 seat plane – no social distancing possibilities there!
Assuming you’re allowed to travel at all, you now need to complete an on-line Passenger Locator Form at least 24 hours before departure. You get a response from Greece at midnight Greek time, with a scannable QR code and a number. No code, no flight (unless your flight is overnight when there are other arrangements made) On arrival in Greece, the number is checked. People with numbers beginning with an even digit (2,4,6,or 8) go to baggage reclaim. An odd first digit (1,3,5.7.9) means you have to take a COVID test, at which point they scan the QR code,and then take a throat swab, after which you can carry on and collect your bags. Guess whose number began with 7! It didn’t cause any delay, my bag still wasn’t on the belt. Some things never change.
If you are tested, you are free to go on your way (using commonsense) for up to 24 hours. Then, people who tested positive are taken away to special quarantine centres for 14 days (at Greek government expense). If you hear nothing, you’re in the clear – and Greek track and trace actually works. Still an anxious 24 hours. So I was COVID-less and caught the Blue Star Patmos to Symi. I can’t claim to have deliberately planned the 24 hours in Rhodes as a break point to keep Symi COVID-free, but it did help.